Destruction of confiscated ivory concludes today (with photos)

     The phased disposal of confiscated ivory concluded today (June 29) with the incineration of the last batch of the government stockpile weighing about 1.5 tonnes at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre in Tsing Yi.

     Since the destruction started in May 2014, a total of some 28 tonnes of ivory seized in previous enforcement actions have been disposed of in 20 rounds of incineration. In future, forfeited ivory under the custody of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) will also be disposed of by incineration.

     An AFCD spokesman said, "The Government is committed to combating the illegal trade in ivory and has been taking stringent enforcement actions. In the past two years, we have seen a significant drop in the seizure of illegal ivory from some 8,000 kilograms in 2013 to some 1,600kg in 2015.

     "The Government's ultimate goal is to phase out the local ivory trade. To this end, the Government is considering amending the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586) to bring about a ban on the import and re-export of hunting trophies, certain ivory carvings and pre-Convention ivory (Note 1), and in the end a complete ban on the local sale of pre-Convention and pre-ban ivory (Note 2). Furthermore, the penalties under the Ordinance are being reviewed for the purpose of providing a much stronger deterrent effect."

     The law enforcement departments will continue to take stringent enforcement actions against illegal import, export and domestic trade in ivory. To strengthen the inter-departmental collaboration on combatting wildlife crime, a Wildlife Crime Task Force comprising representatives of the AFCD, the Environment Bureau, the Customs and Excise Department and the Hong Kong Police Force has been set up to develop strategies and protocols for enforcement operations, gather and analyse intelligence, co-ordinate joint enforcement operations and liaise with other national and international agencies.

     In addition, the AFCD has stepped up control measures and inspections to combat the illegal domestic trade in ivory. In addition to the use of individually numbered tamper-proof holograms with photographic records to mark items of ivory that can be legally traded, hi-tech radiocarbon dating analysis will be employed to determine the age of ivory to assist in law enforcement when necessary.

Note 1: Pre-Convention ivory refers to ivory products predating the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and which were acquired before 1975 for Asian elephants and 1976 for African elephants.

Note 2: Pre-ban ivory refers to the ivory acquired before Hong Kong implemented the international trade ban in 1990 and have been registered by the AFCD.

Ends/Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:48